A green, lush lawn is arguably one of the most recognizable signs of an appropriate landscaping regimen. However, many people treat their grass with chemicals. Due to the substantial amounts of time you, your kids, pets, significant other and friends might spend outside near the grass or even sitting directly on it, it’s completely understandable to want to take a chemical-free approach to manage your lawn. Here’s how to do that.
Choose the Right Kind of Grass
When it’s time to plant grass, the variety you select could drastically impact how well it thrives without chemicals. If your first thought is “It all looks the same to me,” seek the advice of a garden center representative or agricultural expert. It’s particularly important to get help from a person who understands the local climate.
The best grass for your situation also depends on things specific to your yard. They include the amount of foot traffic on the lawn and whether the area is primarily sun-filled or shady.
Watch Your Watering Techniques
Many people think they need to water their lawns like their houseplants — several times per week. But, in most cases, it’s best to water it twice a week at the most and only weekly if you have clay soil. Overly frequent watering leads to shallow root systems and can cause fungal growth.
It’s also important to make sure the water goes about six inches deep into the soil. You can check it in 15-minute increments by lifting up a small portion of sod with a shovel to examine the dirt underneath.
Don’t Mow the Lawn Too Short
Cutting the grass is a chore, especially during the heat of summer — a time when you’d much rather pour a glass of lemonade and set up a lawn chair on the grass instead of mowing it. That’s why people frequently cut their grass shorter than they should. They believe there’s no harm in taking that approach and think the more they reduce the length of the blades of grass, the longer they can go before mowing them again.
But, experts recommend only cutting one-third of the total height of the grass. Chopping off more than that could impair the root growth and increase susceptibility to diseases as well as weed invasions. Even if your lawn is much longer than usual because you went on vacation, had an illness or had no access a lawnmower, it’s still best to only remove one-third of each blade.
Get a Soil Test
Maybe you’ve been careful about watering and mowing — and even applied an organic fertilizer to your grass — but still think your lawn looks lacklustre. The problem could be that your soil doesn’t have the proper pH levels. If that’s the case, your lawn and any surrounding plants won’t grow as well as they could regardless of the kind of fertilizer used.
Consider arranging a professional soil test. The results may require using soil amendment techniques to restore the proper pH balance. Additionally, it’s best to schedule soil testing in the fall. That way, if the pH needs tweaking, there’ll be enough time to perform the necessary interventions before spring arrives.
Most grasses do best in soil that falls between 6.5 and 7.0 on the pH scale. If your soil needs pH adjustments, get professional guidance about how and when to add nutrients.
Apply Non-Chemical Weed Control Substances
When people choose to apply chemicals to their lawns, they often do so to keep weeds at bay. However, there are several things you can use to treat weeds without chemicals.
Create a saltwater mixture with a 2-to-1 ratio of water to salt as a starting point. However, keep in mind that this technique damages all surrounding grass, flowers and plants it touches, not just the weeds. That’s why experts warn it’s effective but must be used with caution. When pouring the liquid, attach a funnel to the container to ensure it only comes in contact with weed and not nearby areas of the lawn or other plants.
Corn gluten meal is another popular weed control method used by people who don’t want to apply traditional pesticides to their lawns. However, the timing of the application is particularly important. If you apply it too early, the weed’s dormant seeds can avoid the corn gluten meal’s preventative effects. If your treatment is too late, the weed gets resilient against the way corn gluten meal typically works.
Also, when using corn gluten meal, don’t apply it to already sprouted weeds. Doing so will only make them thrive. Instead, use the substance as a pre-emergent weed killer, meaning one that works before weeds crop up. Experts recommend using it to curb weed germination during the first week of April.
Vinegar is another effective way to kill weeds without chemicals. You can even use the household variety when dealing with young weeds but will need to get a stronger type for more established weeds.
Remove Weeds Manually
You can also be proactive and dig up weeds by hand as soon as you spot them. That method may be more laborious than applying things to your grass topically. But, keep in mind that most of the treatments mentioned above harm all kinds of growth, including the types you don’t want to kill.
So, if your grass weeds issue is only minor, and you want to tackle it before it gets worse, the manual approach could be the way to go. You’ll need to get the roots of the weed, which is why it’s best to grab the weed near its base with one hand, then use a small knife or similar tool to help separate the weeds from the soil. After doing so, put the weeds into the trash, or preferably, a compost pile.
Apply Compost Properly
Speaking of compost, it’s an essential ingredient for a flourishing lawn. Compost promotes lushness and weed-free growth by nourishing the soil underneath the grass. It also helps with moisture retention during dry summers. When you apply it, be careful not to smother the grass blades by using too much. Put the compost no more than half an inch deep.
It’s especially important to apply compost if your lawn has some spots that have become brown or thin or otherwise look unhealthy. Compost could restore the health of those areas. As a general rule, you should spread compost around your lawn every year, or biannually if possible.
Start by filling a wheelbarrow with compost and spreading the substance around your yard with a shovel. Then, use a rake to spread it more evenly around the yard.
Get Your Gorgeously Green Lawn Without Chemicals
You may initially believe using chemical-free techniques on your lawn gives a worthy payoff, but that it’ll generate a lot of extra work. However, remember all lawn maintenance takes work. If you’re willing to put in the effort required for an impressive-looking yard, the peace of mind that comes from not using substances that could harm your kids or pets should be noticeable, and the outcome will make you feel proud.